The 15 Best Nigerian-South African Collaborations
Featuring "Soweto Baby," "All Eyes On Me," "Tchelete," "Particula," "Rands & Nairas," and many, many more.
The long history of musical collaborations between Nigeria and South Africa has brought a rich harvest that exemplifies a strong symbiosis between indigenous musical heritage (highlife, house, etc.) and that which we have inherited from African-Americans (hip-hop and R&B).
Our list showcases the best of many such collaborations with notable omissions which include "Juice Back" by Nasty C, Davido and Cassper Nyovest; but also wished-for inclusions like "How Long" by Davido and Tinashe, who is from next door Zimbabwe and so hindered by a minor geographical hiccup. Read on for our list of the best Nigerian and South African collaborations.
"Tchelete" - Davido & Mafikizolo (2014)
Said to have come about at an MTN networking session, "Tchelete" is positively organic in the seamless way all three (Theo Kgosinkwe, Nhlanhla Nciza and Davido) interweave melodies and counter-melodies in yoruba, pidgin, IsiZulu, Isixhosa and English—with each competing for prominence. Davido gives a signature rollicking, vocal performance striking a balance with Nciza's soaring voice—all of which are stabilized by Kgosinkwe's call-and-response hooks. Even the production is conjoint, the work of South Africa's Maphorisa and Oskido, and Nigeria's Shizzi all of who have done a great job of straddling a fine balance of house and Naija-pop.
"All For Love" - Wizkid & Bucie (2017)
The "prince" of Afrobeats proves to be a great match for the "princess" of house music on the real delight that is "All For Love," which seamlessly blends Yoruba, Xhosa and English over production by Maphorisa whose thumping percussion is leavened, variously, by piano, guitar and twinkling xylophone.
"All Eyes On Me" - AKA x Burna Boy x Da Les & JR
The near-enchantment of Burna Boy's intro in patois does a lot to mask the heavy borrowing from Americans Tupac ("all eyes on me"?) and DJ Mustard (signature bass synths), in the work of South African producer Tweezy. Together with able verses from AKA, Da Les and JR, "All Eyez On Me" is as good a club-rap song as any.
"Said" - Runtown x Nasty C
South Africa's own boy-wonder did the impossible when he retooled an already perfect song in Runtown's "Mad Over You" by keeping the beat and some of the melodic frame but fashioning his own hook, sung verse and rap verse. Both artists collaborated on the perfectly decent "Said" but rather than worry about matters of the heart, the pair have gone in for triumphalism and has the super-confident Nasty C proclaiming "I never chased a dream, I designed it,"
"Mountain" - Waje & Lira
Waje deploys all the celestial power in her voice on this big motivational march of a song that could make a believer of any cynic (this listener included). The lyrics may seem plain and prosaic—"them no go understand, what you face on your own"—but set to a swell of marching drums and horns, and sung as earnestly as Lira and Waje have done, the result is of huge exultation and relief, not a mountain of a problem solved, but a peace of mind knowing nothing is insurmountable.
"Coolest Kid in Africa" Davido x Nasty C
Trap-Davido excels as the "Coolest Kid In Africa" craftily adapting pidgin and Yoruba to Kidominant's swinging beat which chugs with a big base and rattling snares. The scarily fluent Nasty C is a perfect fit—in skill and flair—delivering a winning verse with an especially nasty line—"pockets never been deeper, bitches never been shallower / if I throw a couple of G's up, she'll prolly let my shadow fuck". Lawdy!
"Soweto Baby" - DJ Buckz x Wizkid x Maphorisa
Goodness lives on "Soweto Baby", the handiwork of producers Maphorisa and DJ Buckz whose use of twinkling electric guitar is as seductive in a house beat, as it is in highlife. When added to the song making genius of Wizkid, the result is an absolute delight. Maphorisa does a decent job of retracing Wizkid's melodies and cadence while Buckz brings a fine melodic form of his own.
"Banger" - Uhuru x Runtown
Not to be confused with fortunes tellers, Runtown and Maphorisa called it right titling their song "Banger"—the better of two collaborations (the other being "Menina Bonita"). Clashing cymbals brings a repeated reprieve from a throbbing percussion over which Runtown and Maphorisa interlock a pair of counter melodies to fine results.
"Ooo" - Burna Boy x Zingah x Wizkid x Maphorisa
The thick viscosity of Lunii Skipz's production has the right amount of swinging bass, unlike many a good trap beat whose distinction is an overladen bass or snare. Counter melodies from a funereal organ add a menacing quality which effectively conveys successive verses of masculine posturing from Zingah, Wizkid and Burna Boy who should be believed when he warns "always on some crazy shit / And I keep 'em coming like it's baby shit"—the latest of which was in October last year, when he was alleged to have ordered for a former accomplice to be rough-handled and robbed in a Nigerian hotel. Great song!
"Soup" - M.I. x Cassper Nyovest
"Soup" is hard as fuck, and features two of the continent's foremost MCs in M.I and Nyovest who have structured roundly impressive verses—the first half of each in English and the second in Hausa (M.I) and Xhosa (Nyovest), reflecting their combined heritages in near-equal measure.
"Particula" - Nasty C x Ice Prince x Patoranking x Jidenna
The heavy dembow percussion may place "Particula" as international dance and a fit for arena beach parties, but single out Ice Prince's faux-patois on the same beat and what you have is galala, Nigeria's interpretation of Jamaican dancehall which gained prominence in the late '90s. Co-Producers Maphorisa and Major Lazer have marshalled together capable verses from artists not many would bet could mesh so well on the same song. Nasty C is ever slick, rap-singing a verse teeming with pithy quotes "ain't nothing cooler than the wrong move when you're doing it to the right song". Jidenna's verse is a potpourri of Spanish ("una pelicula"), Nigerian-isms ("carry go"), Jamaican inflections (bia bia bia Baby) and ends with a falsetto flourish. Never a dull presence, Patoranking is, here, in subdued form providing the ad-libs and second chorus—all of which, surprisingly, does not make for a jumbled mix, but is in fact of much replay value.
"Get Through This" - Yemi Alade x Mi Casa
Earnest emoting and sweet nothings from Mi Casa's J'Something ("it's a fact of life, love will hurt if we do it right") is not going to sway an unimpressed Yemi Alade: "if you give me your number, so I can call you after / no need for all this grammar wey you dey scatter scatter" - and is later more emphatic—"I can be the one who wants to love you, please you and leave you." Alade relents by the third verse and joins for a duet which briefly showcases the power in her voice.
"Proper" - Anatii x Tiwa Savage
The line between submission and agency is a very blurry one on "Proper." Tiwa Savage may first confess that her love interest is the "only one that can have me on my knees/and be having me begging please"—only to later insist—"lemme show you who the boss is, when you kiss my feet." Anatii, for his part, has no problem asking "what's your offer, girl?/ would you take it off?" but is quick to give his reasons why "I wanna see what you're about 'cause, I respect you." Busy and persistent horns adds any amount of breeziness to the song whose chorus of a single-word refrain of the word "proper" is its most musical and memorable quality.
"Spirit" - Kwesta x Wale
South Africa's Makwabeats borrows to good effect, the plonking chord progression Soundtrakk made for "Superstar" by Lupe Fiasco (unless it's a complete coincidence). The ghostly and gravel in Kwesta's voice is apt for a song about spiritual solidarity amongst proud hood dwellers. Nigeria's Wale encapsulates his everyman qualities by offering "i can be a poet, be your homie, be your plumber," but is also keen to ward of threats or competitions by invoking "a hundred Yoruba demons" if tested. Happy to take his word for it.
"Rands & Nairas" - Emmy Gee x Ice Prince x Phyno x AB Crazy x Anatii x Cassper Nyovest x DJ Dimplez
A bar fest like any other, "Rands and Nairas" is also representational of the best of Nigerian and South African rapping talents buoyed by a near-perfect hook by AB Crazy.